12 October 2019

Prime Minister Khan threatens nuclear jihad over Kashmir

By Shak Hill 

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since the 1947 partition created the two states; two of the three were over Kashmir. None of those wars occurred when either country possessed nuclear weapons. 

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the United Nations on Sept. 29 and threatened to change that. Mr. Khan took the 15 minutes of speaking time allotted him and went nearly an hour, using the entire speech to speak of “jihad” over Kashmir and rail against his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Nehendra Modi

“Jihad” is not a word the world wants to hear from a man atop a self-described Islamic republic that owns more than 100 nuclear weapons. 

Mr. Modi is on a strong run. He was re-elected this past spring in a landslide. He has made significant changes regarding Kashmir’s status under the Indian constitution, changes which the Western media mostly misread or label “annexation.” He also addressed the United Nations the same morning as Mr. Khan, and spoke on Kashmir as well. Prior to the U.N. address, Mr. Modi visited Houston, Texas.

The NRC and India’s Unfinished Partition

By Grant Wyeth

Over the past six years the Indian state of Assam has been scrutinizing the citizenship status of each of its 33 million residents. The goal of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has been to identify those people residing in the state who can be designated Indian, and those who the government would prefer to identify as Bangladeshi. At the end of August the final list was published with 1.9 million people in the state unable to prove their Indian citizenship. Yet due to the complicated cultural, political, and structural forces of South Asia’s history, being able to clearly define exactly who is an Indian is not such an easy task. In attempting to do so, the NRC process instead highlighted the persistent complications of the 1947 partition of India, and brought to the fore an ideological struggle over Indian nationhood.

In order to fulfil the requirements of the NRC, the people of Assam were asked to prove their presence — or that of their ancestors — in Assam or in any part of India on or before March 24, 1971. The date chosen is one day before East Pakistan declared its independence and the civil war between East and West Pakistan began. The war was concluded that December, with East Pakistan formally changing its name to Bangladesh on January 11, 1972. It is believed that many people crossed into Indian territory during and following the war.

India and Russia: Connecting Eurasia And The Indo-Pacific


Last week, Narendra Modi was the first Indian prime minister to visit Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok. He was there to attend the 20th India-Russia Annual Summit followed by the fifth Eastern Economic Forum (EEF), in which he was the chief guest. During the visit, the sides announced a slew of bilateral deals. 

These ranged from expanding cooperation in military technology and civil nuclear energy — for which Russia is India’s foremost partner — to hydrocarbons, mining and space, among other areas.

Most significantly, the countries signed a joint statement that recognized Greater Eurasia and the “regions of the Indian and Pacific Oceans” as forming part of a common space and agreed to intensify consultations on complementarities between their respective integration initiatives. 

The special and privileged strategic partnership between India and Russia now spans across both Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific.

The first is a mutual recognition of converging interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Government’s Corporate Tax Move is Bold. But There is a Fiscal Risk


Private consumption, the engine of the economy that had been firing most consistently in recent years, is losing steam. Two other engines — investments and exports — seem to be slowing down again after a brief period of robust activity. The result is 5% growth.

To boost growth, the government, on Friday, decided to risk the only engine of the tax system that has performed lately — corporate tax. In 2018-19, the actual collection (provisional) of corporate tax was Rs 6.63 lakh crore, against the budgeted Rs 6.21 lakh crore. The collections under other major taxes were much lower than budgeted.

The government’s finances have been under pressure. Tax collections have not grown at expected rates. To meet the fiscal deficit target, the government has pushed a lot of borrowing off-budget, making government agencies borrow more. It has also allowed the National Small Savings Fund to lend to a number of government agencies. Most of household financial savings in India now go towards financing the government and its agencies.

Suyash Rai is a fellow at Carnegie India. His research focuses on the political economy of economic reforms, and the performance of public institutions in India.

With the Afghan Taliban in Islamabad, Is Pakistan Finally Getting What It Has Always Wanted?

By Umair Jamal

Last week, an Afghan Taliban delegation led by a senior leader arrived in Islamabad. The delegation in its meeting with Pakistan’s foreign minister agreed to resume stalled peace talks with the United States.

The development is significant, if not unprecedented, for many reasons.

The Taliban’s visit to Pakistan occurred at a time when Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special peace envoy for Afghanistan, was also in Islamabad. Moreover, it has already been reported that Khalilzad held a meeting with the Taliban representatives in Islamabad. This essentially means that Washington has not only decided to restart the stalled peace process, but has effectively endorsed Pakistan’s complete involvement in this regard.

The visit to some extent also answers questions related to Pakistan’s leverage over the group. The delegation of the Taliban was led by Mullah Baradar, a senior Taliban leader who was detained in Pakistan for years and was only freed last year in an effort to launch peace talks. While in the past Pakistan has denied having plausible influence over the group, Khalilzad and the Taliban’s decision to visit Pakistan to hold the first meeting after the collapse of the talks underscores the country’s significant clout over the group and its role in the peace process.

The Taliban Go Global

By Rupert Stone

The Afghan Taliban has often been contrasted with al-Qaeda. While it might have hosted Bin Laden and his men in the 1990s, the Taliban never shared al-Qaeda’s interest in global jihad and stayed focused on Afghanistan. None of its members was involved in 9/11, and it has generally eschewed terrorist activity overseas.

Indeed, the Taliban was in many ways cut off from the world during its rule in the 1990s. Only three governments recognized its regime – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE – and, of those, only Pakistan had an embassy in Afghanistan. Added to that, the Taliban were placed under UN sanctions after the al-Qaeda embassy bombings in 1998.

The original leadership of the Taliban hailed predominantly from the Afghan countryside and had seen little, if anything, of the outside world. Mullah Omar, for example, travelled abroad twice in his entire life, both times to Pakistan during the anti-Soviet jihad of the 1980s, according to journalist Bette Dam.

Has the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Stalled?

By Muhammad Akbar Notezai

Since the announcement of the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, Pakistani officials have been over-excited about its potential success. Day and night, the mainstream Pakistani media has been packed with stories about the CPEC. Businessman, journalists, and tourists from across the country began visiting Gwadar, a port town in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, the epicenter of the CPEC.

The CPEC was announced in 2015, during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tenure. The Sharif government took great pride and credit for the overarching project up until Nawaz Sharif’s removal from office in mid-2017. During Sharif final stint as prime minister, the CPEC was king. If a journalist or a paper published something critical about the CPEC, they would be dubbed anti-development and possibly a traitor. Instead, newspapers and TV channels highlighted the positive aspects of the CPEC in Pakistan ad nauseam.

Over the years, Chinese involvement in Pakistani affairs has increased immensely. On the Pakistani side, some within the business community remained apprehensive about China’s investments while others were hesitant for Islamabad to drift too much into Beijing’s orbit. The Chinese side also had reservations about Pakistan, particularly regarding opportunities for corruption in CPEC projects. But while the Sharif government stood, Islamabad took a concessionary tone toward Beijing when it came to the CPEC.



fghanistan held its elections on September 28. Although we won’t know results for weeks, a relatively low turnout underscores the shortcomings of the U.S.’ approach to peacebuilding and security in the troubled state. Voter concern about Taliban attacks and electoral fraud led many to stay at home. It’s not controversial to assert that security and institutional trust are essential in bringing stability to a fragile democracy, but for both the Afghan government and the U.S., a strategy for achieving these aims has proven elusive. The news isn’t all bad, though. There is a relatively young—but active and growing—set of civil service organizations (CSO) in Afghanistan looking to support community-building and democratic activities. And there is a clear strategy the U.S. can take to support CSO success.

Before 2001, most CSO activity was either involved in traditional governance or humanitarian aid pursuits. After the Taliban was removed from power, international NGO support and funding for CSO activity boosted dramatically and they’ve taken on an accordingly broader spectrum of development activities.

A U.S.-Taliban Deal Is Likely. Peace in Afghanistan Is Not.

Faisel Pervaiz

As the U.S. conflict in Afghanistan enters its 19th year, several significant developments have unfolded in recent weeks that will shape the country's security and governance dynamics. 

The wider war in Afghanistan will continue until the Taliban and the Afghan government agree to a nationwide cease-fire in separate talks.
The continued violence will cause hiccups in U.S.-Taliban negotiations, but their mutual desire for a political settlement will still eventually yield a limited peace deal.
The prospects for long-term stability in Afghanistan, however, will be dictated more by the Afghan government that emerges following Sept. 28 elections.

On Sept. 2, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad heralded a draft peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan, capping almost a year of negotiations. But an insurgent attack in Kabul on the heels of that announcement prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to abruptly call off negotiations on Sept. 7, which were aimed at starting the long process to finally end their 18-year conflict in Afghanistan. U.S.-Taliban talks, however, were always likely to resume due to the two sides' shared need for a political settlement. And indeed, with officials from both sides arriving in Pakistan on Oct. 2, it looks as if they might soon recommence.

Reintegrating Taliban Fighters in Afghanistan

Even with an agreement between the United States and the Taliban uncertain for now, an eventual intra-Afghan peace process will still need to address many critical challenges—including the reintegration of former fighters and their families. Life in a post-settlement Afghanistan could involve an estimated 60,000 full-time Taliban fighters returning to civilian life. There may also be efforts to demobilize other armed groups that have been fighting the Taliban. And if ex-combatants are not accepted by their communities or are unable to find a new livelihood, they may be vulnerable to recruitment by criminal groups or terrorist organizations like the Islamic State.

To address this vital but often overlooked issue and assist U.S. policymakers and agencies as they craft an approach to reintegration, the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has produced the agency’s seventh “Lessons Learned” program report. 

On September 18, USIP and SIGAR held the official launch of “Reintegration of Ex-Combatants: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan.” The event included a keynote address by Special Inspector General John Sopko, followed by a panel discussion on the report’s findings and recommendations—both for the ongoing insurgency and for a post-settlement Afghanistan. Continue the conversation with #SIGAR.

Loya Jirgas and Political Crisis Management in Afghanistan: Drawing on the Bank of Tradition

Many times over the past century, Afghan political elites have utilized a loya jirga, or grand national assembly, when they have needed to demonstrate national consensus. Based on traditional village jirgas convened to resolve local disputes, loya jirgas have been used to debate and ratify constitutions, endorse the country's position and alliances in times of war, and discuss how and when to engage the Taliban in peace talks. In light of the growing political uncertainty in Afghanistan, this report examines the strengths and weaknesses of the loya jirga as an institution for resolving national crises.Delegates assemble at the Consultative Peace Loya Jirga in Kabul on April 29, 2019, to discuss an approach for achieving peace with the Taliban. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters)


Loya jirgas, though rooted in traditional Afghan practices, are essentially modern political institutions that are convened to address problems of great national importance. Loya jirgas have almost always endorsed the decisions of the national leader.

Taliban Says It Freed Three Indian Hostages In Prisoner Swap

By RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

ISLAMABAD -- The Afghan Taliban says it has freed three Indian hostages in an exchange for securing the release of 11 Taliban members, including some high-ranking officials of the militant group.

Two Taliban officials told RFE/RL on October 6 that the swap took place earlier in the day, but they didn’t disclose the location.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing what they described as the sensitive nature of the issue.

The officials refused to say who the militant group exchanged the prisoners with and whether the freed Taliban members were being held by Afghan authorities or U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The officials said the freed Taliban include Sheikh Abdur Rahim and Mawlawi Abdur Rashid, who had served as the militant group's governors of Kunar and Nimroz provinces respectively during the Taliban administration before it was deposed by U.S.-led forces in 2001.

China, Russia Deepen Technological Ties


With joint dialogues, incubators, and technology parks, Beijing and Moscow are seeking to overcome deficiencies and compete with the United States.

China and Russia are deepening and expanding their ties — economic, military, technological — as external pressures limit their access to overseas markets and technology. Both countries hope the collaboration will help to compensate for domestic deficiencies and to compete successfully with the United States in today’s critical technologies. 

This bilateral relationship, currently celebrating its 70th anniversary, has ebbed and flowed in the decades since the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China opened diplomatic relations. This relationship, now upgraded to and characterized as a “comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era,” is continuing to evolve amid today’s great power rivalry. 

Time for a New Liberation?

Timothy Garton Ash

Prague, July 2019. I’m sitting with Ivan Havel in a cozy alcove of the Austro-Hungarian–themed Monarchie restaurant when Monika Pajerová arrives. A student leader in the Velvet Revolution and still bubbling with energy thirty years later, blond, bespectacled Monika takes a smartphone out of her handbag and scans the barcode on my bottle of mineral water. The phone buzzes and displays a green-ink caricature of Andrej Babiš, the agribusiness oligarch and former secret police informer who is now the Czech prime minister. Beneath his frowning face are the words “Bez Andreje” (loosely translatable as “does not contain Andrej”), indicating that this bottled water is not a product of any of his companies. “It’s all right,” says Monika, “you can drink it!”

A week earlier there had been a huge demonstration calling for Babiš’s resignation at the Letná park, the scene of the Velvet Revolution’s largest rally in November 1989. Some of the slogans (“Truth will prevail over lies,” “Resign!”), the high-flown civic sentiments, and quite a few of the people in the crowd were the same as thirty years earlier. But this one featured a rapper and a YouTube star, and it was led by a new generation of students in their twenties. Whereas then we shivered under freezing snow, now they baked in blazing sunshine.

Did Israel 'Transfer' Military Technology to Help China Build the J-10 Fighter?

by Sebastien Roblin

The J-10 “Vigorous Dragon” is a mainstay of China’s effort to modernize its large fleet of single-engine jet fighters, with 350 already in service. An agile tactical fighter similar to the ubiquitous F-16 Fighting Falcon, the Vigorous Dragon was the first domestic Chinese design roughly on par with Western and Russian fourth-generation fighters.

However, there is considerable evidence that the J-10’s development was heavily informed by a jet fighter developed by Israel with U.S. engines in the 1980s.

Israel first manufactured its own jets after its order of French Dassault Mirage Vs was embargoed in 1967. Israeli agents obtained Mirage V schematics (and most likely manufacturing components and even airframes), allowing Israel Aerospace Industries to produce two domestic clones: the Nesher and the improved Kfir. These both served with the IAF and were exported broad.

How China Stole Russia's Jet Fighter Designs (And Russia Isn't Happy)

by Michael Peck
Source Link

Remember that Russian carrier-based jet that China copied without permission? Those airplanes are crashing, and Russia doesn't seem too broken up about it.

Though Russia and China are now friends, even holding joint exercises, Russia's Sputnik News recently trotted out an article titled "Chinese Navy Short on Carrier-Based Fighters, Only Has Problem-Ridden J-15."

The J-15 is an unlicensed copy of Russia's Su-33 carrier jet, which is a 1980s derivative of the Su-27K land-based fighter. China had acquired a T-10K-3, an Su-33 prototype, from Ukraine and then reverse-engineered it.

With a barely disguised touch of schadenfreude, Sputnik News delved into the woes of the J-15. "Love for the fourth-generation J-15 jet is seldom shown in Chinese circles," said the Russian news site. "The Asia Times noted that Chinese media has disparaged the plane in numerous ways, including referring to it as a 'flopping fish' for its inability to operate effectively from the Chinese carriers, which launch fixed-wing aircraft under their own power from an inclined ramp on the bow of the ship. The J-15's engines and heavy weight severely limit its ability to operate effectively: at 17.5 tons empty weight, it tops the scales for carrier-based fighters. The US Navy's F-18 workhorse, by comparison, is only 14.5 tons."

Iran's Nightmare: Time for America to Use Drones in the Persian Gulf?

Heiko Borchert,


Current incidents in the Arabian Sea should be seized as an opportunity to advance naval conceptual thinking about unmanned maritime systems in gray zone operations. Gray zone activities are an astute object for concept development, as they “creep up on their goals gradually,” rather than involving decisive moves, as Michael Mazarr has argued. In response, Mazarr contends, gray zone operations will “call for a greater emphasis on innovation” as these operations take different forms and intensities and thus require varied responses. This coincides with the general need to devote more attention to concepts development that drives the use of new naval technologies such as unmanned systems.

Applying Unmanned Systems to Gulf Security

Maritime stability in the Arabian Sea has deteriorated significantly over the past couple of weeks. In response to the Iranian seizure of the Stena Imperio, a Swedish oil tanker under British flag, London reached out to different European capitals in view of establishing a maritime protection mission escorting commercial vessels through the Strait of Hormuz.

From Missiles to Oil, These Are Iran's Most Lethal Weapons

Robert Farley

Key point: Iran still has many tools to push back against U.S. national security interests.

The recent agreement between Iran and the P5+1 has, presumably, tabled the question of Iranian nuclear weapons for the next ten years, and perhaps longer. 

However, Iran retains a set of lethal tools for pursuing its interests in the Middle East. Iran’s regional presence has always amounted to more than the nuclear weapon threat; before the Revolution, Iran played a central role in the politics of the region. After the Revolution it continued to play this role, only in far more disruptive fashion. 

Here are five lethal “tools,” arrayed across the spectrum of strategic violence and influence, that Tehran can use to protect its position and further its ends:

Irregular Warfare

Trump's Parting Gift: An Iran with Nuclear Weapons?

by Amitai Etzioni

Rarely are one’s predictions as quickly tested as those I made in August. I suggested that the United States’ lame response to Iran’s aggressive actions would lead to escalation. It was not hard to predict. It seemed obvious to me that, unable to get the European Union to help meaningfully circumvent U.S. sanctions, Iran concluded that it ought to cause pain to those who imposed them. It carefully probed how far it could go without facing a forceful response. First, its forces planted mines on oil tankers, but above their waterline, so the tankers did not sink and there was no loss of life. Iran denies any involvement in this initial act. It then admitted that it shot down a U.S. drone, but tried to argue that it was flying over Iranian territory when it happened. These aggressions led to a very weak Western response (mainly the application of meaningless sanctions on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei). As a result, Iran escalated further by capturing an oil tanker and openly acknowledging that it had begun enriching its uranium. 

The US Is Trying to Restore Deterrence in the Gulf. That Won’t be Enough

Source Link

Iran and Saudi Arabia are locked in a security dilemma. Here are some potential ways out.

The United States’ ability to deter Iran in the Gulf is collapsing, as shown by an escalating series of violent actions either known or suspected to be Iranian. U.S. officials have responded with sensible steps that are largely consistent with scholarly insights on deterrence theory. But even if they manage to restore deterrence, it will provide only a temporary respite to the primary source of instability in the Gulf: the security dilemma confronting Saudi Arabia and Iran. U.S. policymakers must address this more fundamental issue, lest the region arrive at a “1914 moment” and careen into war.
Recalibrating a failed U.S. deterrence policy

As global tensions escalated in the wake of the Sept. 14 missile and drone strikes on the oil refineries at Abqaiq and Khurais, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford held a rare and unscheduled press conference on Sept. 21. World leaders were anxiously awaiting an outline of America’s planned military response to what the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had declared “an act of war” by leaders in Tehran. 

The decline of US global leadership: Power without authority


The US House of Representatives’ inquiry into grounds for impeaching Donald Trump is yet another indication of the massive erosion of the President’s domestic authority. His authority as an international leader has similarly declined, not as a result of challenges by other international leaders but as a consequence of the President’s commentary and actions.

For power to enjoy legitimacy, authority is a necessary concomitant. The alignment of political authority with economic and military power enabled the pax Romana to endure for more than two centuries. It took more than 1300 years following the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180CE for Rome’s political authority to dissipate and for the eastern empire finally to fall.

The pax Americana arguably began in 1945 with total victory by the US and its allies in Europe and the Pacific. The groundbreaking work of US Secretaries of State Cordell Hull, George Marshall, and Dean Acheson garnered the authority – accorded by the international community rather than simply usurped by the US – that positioned the US as the dominant strategic power for 70 years.

The Rise and Fall of a Russian Mercenary Army


The Russian firm Wagner Group, a shadowy mercenary outfit waging secret wars on the Kremlin’s behalf from Ukraine to Syria to the Central African Republic, seems like something from a Tom Clancy novel. Born out of a need for plausible deniability in Moscow’s military operations abroad, Wagner contractors were at the forefront of some of the heaviest fighting in eastern Ukraine and Syria in recent years before exploding into the headlines with their brazen assault on a U.S. military position in northeast Syria in February 2018. Wagner seemed to herald a new reality, one in which it would form the spearhead of an aggressive new Russian policy abroad. But Wagner may be less influential than it seems.

The past few months have been filled with revelations about the group’s reversal of fortune. On July 28, an investigation by the Russian independent media outlet Novaya Gazeta revealed that three Russian military contractors killed in central Syria in mid-June were not Wagner employees but part of another such firm, called Shield. The casualties were the first confirmed non-Wagner-linked Russian contractors killed in the country, a fact made more significant by their presence in the central Syrian desert, heretofore one of Wagner’s primary operations zones in Syria: The group played a pivotal role in capturing (and then recapturing) Palmyra and Deir Ezzor in 2016 and 2017.

What Translation Troubles Can Tell Us About Russian Information Warfare

Joe Cheravitch

Moscow’s form of information warfare targeting the West has attracted significant international attention since 2014, especially through its reinvigorated military intelligence branch. Nonetheless, little research has focused on these campaigns’ apparent shortcomings. Most notable among operational errors are the confusing translation mistakes that undermine attempts at covert influence efforts, such as the flawed Arabic used during Russia‘s Cyber Caliphate’ campaign, or Guccifer 2.0’s poor Romanian during election-meddling. More recent efforts featured similar translation errors commonly experienced by native Russian-speakers, aside from misspelling the surname of a foreign minister in a forgery attempt. The fact that these operations are likely approved and scrutinized at senior levels yet falter on seemingly trivial blunders compared to the impressive hacking skills often used to support them only adds to the perplexity. 

Several factors probably influence these bizarre lapses in tradecraft. Perhaps there is too little oversight and objective evaluation. Russian operators, for instance, put their early work in Ukraine in the “best possible light” for their superiors despite the inherent difficulties in gauging the true impact of their operations. The same operators might place too much confidence in ‘automated’ information warfare. Sometime in the wake of the Georgian War in 2008, the Russian military’s psychological warfare schoolhouse began classes in “machine translation” of foreign texts alongside coursework in traditional disinformation tactics. Perhaps translation errors are just a matter of quantity over quality.

New Tech Aims to Tell Pilots When Their Plane Has Been Hacked


As the military helicopter lifts off the ground and heads skyward, the numbers on the altimeter suddenly stop ticking upward. The rumble of the helicopter’s engines fade and the chopper starts losing altitude. A second later, a dire warning flashes in red on a cockpit screen: “Cyber Anomaly.”

The helicopter is under attack, but not from missiles or guns. Seconds later, it smashes into the ground.

Luckily for the pilot, he’s not in a real helicopter — just a small simulator set up in a conference room of a high-rise office building in Arlington, Virginia. Greg Fry, the engineer at the controls of the choreographed crash, is part of a Raytheon team that is building a new warning system that tells pilots when their planes are being hacked, something the U.S. military expects to happen in the battles of the future.

“Basically, we’re trying to give the pilot the information about what’s happening internally on his aircraft in real time,” said Amanda Buchanan, the project’s engineering lead. “We’re telling him what’s going on and allowing him to make decisions about what he needs to do to correct the problems.”

The Counterrevolution in Naval Affairs

by James Holmes

Gen. David Berger aspires to be a revolutionary figure. Or perhaps counterrevolutionary. A revolution sweeps away what is and replaces it with something altogether new. A counterrevolution sweeps away what is and replaces it with what was long ago, or some semblance of the golden past. The new U.S. Marine Corps commandant, or most senior uniformed official, wants to repeal the post–Cold War revolution that saw the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps turn away from open-ocean combat. The naval services did so on the whimsical assumption that, with the Soviet Navy rusting at its moorings, there was no one left to fight for mastery of the seas. And, apparently, never would be.

This is a counterrevolution worth mounting. Wresting maritime command from rival navies has been the central function of naval forces, bar none, since time immemorial. And yet U.S. naval grandees proclaimed, in effect, that history had come to an end, rendering that function moot. In 1992 they directed the sea services to reinvent themselves as a “fundamentally different naval force.” Now that the oceans and seas were an American preserve, that transformed naval force had little need to gird for high-seas battles that would never happen. Instead it could concentrate on using offshore waters as a sanctuary for projecting power ashore, protecting seagoing commerce, and doing good works following humanitarian disasters.

Nixon and Trump: The Politics of Impeachment

By George Friedman - Oct. 8, 2019

The evolution of the American political system inevitably has an impact on the global system. If the United States shifts direction in even minor matters, there are regional consequences. Political events are difficult to predict, but the key variables of the process can be identified by comparing the current evolution to a roughly similar prior event. My intent is to benchmark the current impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump to the one that forced Richard Nixon to resign. It is an attempt to define what matters and what doesn’t within the impeachment process, rather than the potential global outcome triggered by hypothetical events.

The Watergate Scandal

Nixon resigned as president in August 1974. Tapes of him discussing the break-ins at Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate building were released on Aug. 5, and he resigned four days later. Until that point, a substantial segment of the electorate continued to support him. He had won reelection in 1972 by defeating George McGovern, who ran on an anti-war platform. That platform was perceived by many as supporting what was then called the “counterculture,” which was seen as a systematic attack by a marginal group on American middle-class values. Nixon positioned himself as the spokesman for the “silent majority,” which was seen as the politically subdued core of American society and values.

Nine Nobel Prize Predictions for 2019

(Inside Science) -- Every year, the Nobel Prizes in physiology or medicine, physics, and chemistry honor great advances and discoveries in science. Last year, one of our top contenders in medicine -- checkpoint inhibitors for cancer therapy -- won. We were not as successful in the other two categories. But buoyed by that modicum of success, we will again attempt to summarize nine top contenders for these famous science prizes (including one repeat from last year). 
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine -- Announced October 7

As early as 1913, researchers had noticed that certain types of cancer run in families, suggesting that the risk was inherited. That led mid-20th-century researchers to suspect that cancer risk could be encoded in the DNA. But as geneticist Maynard Olson told the University of Washington's alumni magazine Columns in 1996, most assumed that cancer risk would include many different genes and environmental factors, with each gene contributing only a small amount. 

Japan Frets ‘Belt and Road’ Could Give Cover to China’s Military

Jon Herskovitz
Japan believes China could use its global “Belt and Road” infrastructure initiative to push its People’s Liberation Army into the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions, a move that could shake up regional security.

The “Defense of Japan” white paper released Friday said, “China engages in unilateral, coercive attempts to alter the status quo based on its own assertions that are incompatible with the existing international order.” Tokyo also stood firmly behind its sole military ally, the U.S.

Japan’s worries about one of the signature projects of Chinese President Xi Jinping come as other major powers, including the U.S., have raised concerns that Belt and Road port construction in places such as Djibouti and Cambodia could have a dual military use.

The First Smartphone War

“I went there behind the crude but serious belief that you had to be able to look at anything, serious because I acted on it and went, crude because I didn’t know; it took the war to teach it, that you were as responsible for everything you saw as you were for everything you did.” Michael Herr, the Esquire reporter and author of the Vietnam memoir Dispatches said this, and the longer I covered the fighting in Mosul, Iraq, the truer it felt, though I didn’t know why. A book I wrote about the battle has just been published, and I’ve been thinking about Herr’s lines again.

The battle of Mosul went on for about nine months, between the autumn of 2016 and the summer of the following year. It was the decisive battle in the war against the Islamic State, in ways the climactic battle of what we once called the War on Terror. It was a battle so bitter, killing roughly 1,200 Iraqi forces and thousands of civilians and jihadis, that a Pentagon spokesman called it, with the Pentagon’s official muddling delicacy, “the most significant urban combat since WWII.” What he didn’t mention was that it also may have been the most visually documented battle, in the most visually documented war, ever fought.

Army Pursues New Virtual Soldier Training for Future War

by Kris Osborn

(Washington, D.C.) Exploding enemy targets with precision artillery, “lasing” ground targets for drone air attack and waging close-combat urban warfare with hand-carried small arms -- are all scenarios entertained recently in high-tech virtual training wargame designed to closely replicate anticipated future warfare.

The exercise, intended to virtually “create” high-threat, multi-domain modern warfare, was intended to move the Army closer to its goal of engineering a new “force-on-force” mobile training technology designed to prepare soldiers for the risks and perils of a new kind of war.

“This was a computer-based simulation down to the individual model -- using real-time data and responding in a real-world manner,” Col. Chris Cassibry, Maneuver Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate's Concepts Development Division director, recently told reporters.